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Vae Victis

par Eric Cotte
mise en ligne : 26 September 1999
Traduction : Vae victis !

The plight of the losers as the only guarantee of the new World order.

"In a cemetery, as far as I know, people do not talk".
Milenko Karan, Serb intellectual, foreseeing the Kosovo "massacre".

In East-Timor, just like in ex-Yougoslavia or Rwanda before, the brave soldiers of the international community go count the corpses, watch over the mass graves, and bury the dead. Today, the image is explicit: a genocide is like an earthquake. Unpredictable, sudden, unexpected. The earth shakes during the night and all we can do is send specialists the next day to count victims and avoid epidemics.

It makes one wonder what humanities are for. What’s the use of specialists in international relations, secret services, United Nations observers and our nice worldwide information system every time people get cut to pieces (the unit involved being the tens of thousands of victims), since we seem to be surprised every time something like that happens?

What if, in fact, the world order established a the end of WWII wasn’t that of peace, of democracy, of human rights, but that of Order for the sake of Order? Did the world, more barbaric than ever (were there ever more killings than during the 20th century?), stop striving for human hope and progress and start caring only for stability?

Initially, the world order was forged not on the defeat of Germany and Japan, but on the exemplary punition for their people. The equilibrium of world powers comes from the massacres perpetrated after victory wasassured: Dresden bombed by the English in February 1945 (35,000 dead - read Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slaughterhouse-Five"), the Russian response over Berlin and the American supremacy with Hiroshima (140,000 dead) and Nagasaki (70,000 dead) in August of 1945. We can try justifying those through the responsibility of Germany and Japan for the war, the horror of the concentration camps, the millions of dead... But is the massacre of civilians the best show of justice? Death to the losers. A proof of absolute military superiority as an assurance of stability.

Nowadays, the equilibrium brought about by nuclear terror being but a memory, stability rests on new principles, the first one being ethnic purity. The wars in the Balkans are largely due to the new geopolitical theories of the great powers, the German Ethnopolitik, the Shock of civilizations for Americans (as described by Samuel Hutington in "the Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, No. 73, 1993). Those theories would deserve long explanations, but, simplified to death, they rest on the spurious idea that races cannot live together (ethnic and religious origins defining the notion of race and not, as in the ideals from the French revolution, Reason and the social contract). They can only co-exist one next to the other, in a sort of worldwide Apartheid, with the ratio of power working as the guarantee of stability.

Therefore, genocide and massacre are the byways of the world order. Ethnic cleansing and displacement of populations answer, in a quite quick, simple, and definitive manner, the need for stability of the great powers. Human rights, peaceful co-existence of races and democracy, on the other hand, take a lot of time, are complex and... costly (and it’s a never-ending process).

Moreover, World order is designed serve the goals of big businesses (fruits and vegetables companies in South America, oil companies in Africa, industries in Asia), multinationals that prefer stability to change, repression to human progress. To explain the fact that France backed the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana in Rwanda, Roland Dumas said that, although it may not be a model of virtue, thanks to him Rwanda was a stable country. There again, the international community turned a blind eye, and the massacres came only later (as if to cleanse the international community’s conscience or to avoid the instability of the whole region?).

In Bosnia, what happened in Srebrenica showed the determination of the West not to protect ethnic mixes, and the war was resolved by cutting the country into ethnically pure territories, regardless of the human costs of massacres and displacements.

In spite of the so-called humanitarian discourse, the world order still rests on the plight of the losers. Intervening too late, in spite of what some hypocrites among the people in charge say, is not a fatality but a deliberate will to resolve durably (or definitively, in the case of total Pogroms) and at a low cost the problems that may arise between populations. A good big massacre is simply good enough to some people to bring back ethnic equilibrium (or ethnic purity), which is the base of the geopolitical theories of the greater powers. (Note that I voluntarily did not use brackets, as I think that the racist slant of the Ethnopolitik and of the "Clash of civilizations" theories is explicit enough...)

Tomorrow (if we’re really going towards a humanist world), we shall have to write the Black Book of this barbaric world order that sacrifices people to its craving for stability. Stability at all cost, that is the definition of a reactionary system.

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